The first followers say it: it’s time to join the Metaverse. Researchers estimate that by 2026, one in four of us will be spending at least an hour a day there for work, shopping, training, socializing or entertainment.
But for most of us, this alternative digital world remains a mystery. It is basically a computer-generated extended reality that encompasses all augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality environments. Currently, it consists of spaces where people and autonomous entities interact.
The value of the global Metaverse market over the next 15 years could be estimated to be between $10,000 and $30,000 billion. The potential promises to be significant and Dubai in particular plans to exploit it to become a global leader in this new field.
The specific strategy for 2030 aims to increase this sector’s contribution to its economy to EUR 4 billion and to create 42,000 virtual jobs. It aims to implement Metaverse technologies that can help improve the performance of local surgeons by 230% and increase the productivity of engineers by 30%.
Major tech companies such as Apple, Google, Meta Platforms – formerly Facebook – and Microsoft are developing the technologies that will shape the future of the Metaverse. MasterCard is also following the trend. The annual Digital Payments Index report shows that consumers are ready to adapt to this development.
JK Khalil, Managing Director for the Eastern Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, says his group’s data shows a 67% growth in digital payments. “If we add the Metaverse to this kind of matrix, to this ecosystem, it will create even more opportunities, so it’s very important to participate in that.” he says. “Our partners, be they fintech, retail or bank, are all excited about the Metaverse and interested in constructive discussions about future partnerships,” he indicates.
New business models
Scopernia is a Dubai-based company that helps brands and organizations understand and take advantage of new technologies such as Web3.
“The forms of Metaverse that are interesting these days are those where you can own things,” says Jérémy Denisty, MENA general manager of this company. “So we create something and it’s up to us; we buy a shirt for our avatar and we can resell it to someone or if you want to acquire land you can buy it and then resell it,” he specifies.
“It totally changes the way the economy works in the virtual world: it means new ways for people to invest and create business models,” he continues. “So of course it is necessary to have a strategy in this area and we are all involved, you and I as individuals, but also organizations: it opens up a whole field of possibilities”, he makes clear.
“The Internet of the 90s”
Briar Prestidge, based in the emirate, is CEO and founder of Prestidge Group. She also bets on the Metaverse. She likens it to the internet of the 90s. Recently she spent 48 hours in this alternative world trying to find out what forms it takes and how brands are present in it.
“To me, Web3 and the Metaverse are just an extension of the Internet. In my opinion, all companies will move to Web3, I encourage everyone to stay curious and be a part of it,” she assures. “I wanted to apply my own principles, so I decided to launch one of the first Emirati virtual NFT collections for avatars, derived from the pieces from my label Briar Prestidge and presented at the world’s first Metaverse Fashion Week,” the young woman remarked.
Earlier this year, Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority became the first regulator in the world to provide a framework for financial entities to operate in the Metaverse, illustrating the emirate’s ambition to become a key to this digital world.